FOXBORO -- In a surprising move Tuesday, the Patriots placed receiver Donte' Stallworth on injured reserve with an ankle injury and released tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. In addition, the team released OL Tommie Draheim from the practice squad.
Stallworth, 32, was re-signed by the Patriots on Dec. 4 and played in Monday night’s win over Houston. He scored on his only reception in the game on a 63-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the third quarter. He was tackled from behind and fell to the ground as he reached the ball over the goal line.
He remained in the game and there was no injury announcement. He also spoke to reporters after the game and there was no noticeable limp. The move raises speculation that Deion Branch could be returning to the Patriots. He was released in November but his locker and personal items remain intact. Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe tweeted  minutes after Stallworth's season-ending move to IR that Branch is indeed returning to the Patriots to take Stallworth's spot. The NFL Network's Albert Breer also reported that Branch will re-sign with the Patriots.
Stallworth is a veteran of nine NFL seasons with New Orleans (2002-05), Philadelphia (2006), New England (2007), Cleveland (2008), Baltimore (2010) and Washington (2011). He re-signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent from Washington on March 23, 2012 but was released after training camp. The 6-foot, 200-pounder spent the 2007 season with New England after joining the team as an unrestricted free agent from Philadelphia and played in 16 games with nine starts, finishing the year with 46 receptions for 697 yards and three touchdowns. Stallworth originally entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick (13th overall) by New Orleans in 2002 out of Tennessee. He has played in 115 games with 59 starts and has registered 321 receptions for 4,837 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Shiancoe, 32, signed with the Patriots as a free agent on July 25, 2012. He was placed on the injured reserve with a designation to return on Sept. 5, 2012 and was activated to the 53-man roster on Nov. 10. He played in four games and was inactive for one with New England and did not have any receptions. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder is a veteran of nine seasons with the New York Giants (2003-06) and Minnesota Vikings (2007-11). He originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft choice (91st overall) of the Giants in 2003 out of Morgan State and joined Minnesota as an unrestricted free agent on March 3, 2007. Shiancoe has played in 148 NFL games with 90 starts and has 243 receptions for 2,677 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Draheim, 23, was signed to the New England practice squad on Dec. 4. He originally was signed by Green Bay as a rookie free agent out of San Diego State on May 3, 2012. The 6-foot-4, 309-pounder, was released by Green Bay following training camp and spent one week on the Seattle practice squad in September.
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